A performance of "taiko," Japanese traditional drumming, will highlight Japan Fest on Saturday, March 15, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m., at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.

The cultural event, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech, is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Triangle Taiko, a Raleigh, N.C., group dedicated to exploring and performing the ancient art, will use a variety of drums in the performance, said Devi Gnyawali, an associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, who is organizing the event with Deborah Milly, an associate professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, whose teaching and research interests include Japanese politics and society. Gnyawali, who has led study-abroad programs to Japan in the past five consecutive years, said that the event is aimed at raising awareness of Japanese culture.

Milly said drums were long used in Japan in rituals, festivals, and wars. Today, their use is mainly in festival performances and folk art demonstrations, and distinct regional rhythms and styles of drumming have evolved.

Several student groups are supporting or participating in Japan Fest, including the Animation Society at Virginia Tech, Uechi-Ryu at Virginia Tech, Kodokan Aikido at Virginia Tech, and the Japanese Cultural Association at Virginia Tech. A group of Japanese language students will organize a display of haiku at the Lyric Theater on the day of the performance and perform a short skit.

Japan Fest is coordinated by the East Asia Regional Leadership Group, which brings together faculty and administrators from across Virginia Tech who have ties to East Asia through their research, teaching, or outreach activities. The group, Milly said, meets regularly to exchange information and discuss how to improve the university’s educational offerings about East Asia and its research and outreach collaborations in the region.

For more information about Japan Fest, e-mail Devi Gnyawali or Deborah Milly. Persons with disabilities needing special assistance should contact Milly.